Saturday, May 30, 2009

Earthquake followup

We continue to have aftershocks; just after we went to bed last night, I felt some mild shaking three times, one lasting several seconds. People living on the beach reported almost hourly aftershocks felt Thursday, with the strongest one late in the day actually being a 4.8 earthquake.
We felt some of those up on the hill.

The USGS site gave this summary of the quakes (times are UTC, not local):

y/m/d h:m:s
MAP 4.6 2009/05/29 12:51:03 15.359 -86.463 10.0 HONDURAS
MAP 4.5 2009/05/29 02:45:44 16.118 -87.591 10.0 OFFSHORE HONDURAS
MAP 4.8 2009/05/28 09:06:25 16.353 -87.377 10.0 OFFSHORE HONDURAS
MAP 7.3 2009/05/28 08:24:45 16.730 -86.209 10.0 OFFSHORE HONDURAS

As we've been out talking with people, checking on friends, we've come to realize just how blessed we are to be up on our hill. Many people in our northwest area of the island, Sandy Bay, had problems, especially on the beach. Our friends Colin, Kellie and Moe, just moved to the beach a month ago. Their home suffered cracked walls, tiles, pieces falling from the ceiling, lots of breakage. Their neighbor and landlord incurred even more damage (identical concrete houses) with cracked plumbing, grout popping out of tiles. Our friends, Bob and Debi, just down the beach from Colin, found nearly everything in their kitchen broken on the floor. One of the shop owners told me about her "500 lb. television" falling off the wall [cabinet] onto the floor and not breaking. She said lots of glasses tumbled out of cabinets, but only a few broke. It seems like many of the restaurants and souvenir shops in West End came through it just fine.

Some of our friends were diving during one of the smaller quakes and felt it as an underwater "boom". Don and many others recall hearing the ocean roar during and right after the quakes. I guess I was too terrified to even register that sound among all the other noises.

We know from reading online reports that the mainland had several deaths, even more injuries, a few houses (poorly constructed) and one bridge collapsing. Just read that up in one of the mountainous areas about 100 mud brick homes collapsed and several churches of similar construction were also destroyed.

We are taking Dave and Tracy, who arrived safely at noon on Thursday, out to the east end of the island today. Our friend, Debi, is coming along as a "tour guide" to show Dave the best scenic shots. They are both avid photographers. Tracy, an ecologist, is anxious to see the mostly undeveloped side of the island. It's been very hot and rather hazy here. I'm hoping it clears off as we head east.

Still feeling blessed on Roatan....

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Whole lot of shaking....

Most of you have heard by now that we had a 7.1 magnitude earthquake at 2:30 a.m. today. It was incredible. I had just woken from a very deep REM sleep, perhaps sensing something, lay awake listening but heard nothing amiss. Used the bathroom, snuggled back down into bed, when suddenly the quake hit, shaking us like nothing we've ever experienced. The bed was shaking and moving, the floor was moving, everything was rattling and bouncing, and we were terrified. The power went out immediately. Total darkness. Once we realized that it was an earthquake, Don said "we've got to get out of here". We scrambled around, Don found his keys to our gate, and we ran out and up onto the road.

We could hear people off in the distance, down the hill, down on the beach, all hollering and crying out, some quite hysterical. Soon we saw car headlights, people leaving beachfront homes, heading for higher ground, fearful of a tsunami. That never even crossed our minds, never having experienced an earthquake while also on an island, but Don said later that we were too close to the epicenter to have any tsunami effect here. We didn't know how close that was, but it sure felt like it was right under our house. In fact, it was 27 miles away - close enough.

Dennis and Merlin called to see if we were ok....we were and so were they. We heard our neighbors, Chuck and Tia, driving down to their church and missionary inn near the beach, checking on people and bringing some of them back up to their house on the hill above us. Dennis and Merlin's kids, who live down the hill from us, came up the hill, also fearing a tsunami. Lots of people were sitting outside, talking and waiting to see if it was all over. Not much sleep afterwards.

The sky was completely clear; I've never seen so many stars before, including the Milky Way, which we seldom can see in our urban home in the States. I checked the hummingbird nest to make sure the babies hadn't been blown out, and they were ok. We found our oil lamp, lit it and went around the house, checking for damage. My lamp and a glass of water had tumbled off my bedside table. A couple of pictures fell off a wall and table. The fire extinguisher fell over (and thankfully didn't not discharge all over). Nothing fell out of cabinets or off shelves. Amazing. A few cans fell over inside the cabinets but nothing broke. Our house doesn't appear to have sustained any structural damage. About three hours later, the power came back on - that really surprised us. Dennis came by to say the pump to the well had not come back on, so be sparing in our use of water. He also said they had been getting phone calls from people in Canada and the States and it was worldwide news already. I immediately sent out e-mails saying we were ok, then called my parents, fearing that my dad would have heard and be worried. My dad doesn't do e-mail, and I knew my mother would still be sleeping. Thankfully, my cell phone worked and I was able to let them know we were fine. A short time later, the water pump sprang to life, and we have plenty of water again.

We are feeling very blessed today and hopeful that Dave and Tracy's flight arrives on schedule. Too bad they missed all the excitement though.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Baby Hummers

The babies are not only hungry, they're hot! They are growing and beginning to get real feathers, so it's getting crowded in the nest. That's ok at night when it cools off, but we've had a few really hot (90-95 degrees) days in a row, making it pretty warm in the nest. I'm betting they'll be happy to be outta there.

With this abnormally hot weather, we've had to resort to the "get-it-done-early-or-forget-it" schedule. And the frequent power outages don't help. We've now gone almost 36 hours without an outage - I hesitate to say that because when Don does that, the power immediately goes out. And it is pretty miserable to not have the fans running. After a couple of days or partial days with very little breeze and high humidity, we're enjoying nice breezes and lower humidity today, so my laundry is drying quickly.

We've been busy getting the house cleaned, laundry done, groceries bought,and yard work being done by Julio, all in preparation for our son and daughter-in-law's arrival tomorrow - their first visit to Roatan. We're really hoping it will cool off for their week here; they're not used to temperatures like this in Wisconsin. We've been making plans for all the places we want to take them, our favorite restaurants, sailing at sunset, snorkeling, and exploring areas that we hope will interest both the ecologist and the photographer. And lots of card games. Can't wait!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hungry Hummers

The babies seem to be doing well, despite prolonged absences of their mother and my worrying. Perhaps this is not all that unusual for hummingbirds. I certainly don't have any experience being the doting grandmother (thanks, Darryll!) of hummingbirds. These baby birds do seem to be very similar in behavior to newborn humans - eat, sleep, poop....but they don't cry when they need attention, at least not yet.

Chrissy and Caribbean (thanks to Ben and Annie for the baby names) are getting fuzzier day by day, also bigger. Esmerelda doesn't spend any extra time on the nest anymore. She rams the food down their throats (no exaggeration), and then she's off. I have some terrific video I took of her feeding the babies, but I've had no luck uploading it to Blogger, even after spending 1-1/2 hours trying! And anyway, the video was shot vertically rather than horizontally, so you would have had to look at it sideways.

Esmerelda resting on the Pride of Barbadoes in between feedings. The sunlight really show off her beautiful colors.

The babies should be ready to start testing their wings one day this week. I'll be ready with the camera.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Today my dad catches up with my mother in years - 81 to be exact. This picture, on of my favorites, was taken last year when my parents came to visit us on Roatan.

My parents have both been blessed with pretty good health - although Daddy did give us a scare 5 years ago when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Thankfully, it was stage one, encapsulated mass. It was removed and has not returned. Praise God!!

He's had to give up some things he once enjoyed due to arthritis in his neck and shoulders. He was once an avid fisherman, going to Canada with a group of friends, or out onto Missouri lakes with fishing buddy Charlie. He taught both of his daughters to fish, but only one of us kept with it. [I personally find fishing boring; my sister could fish all day long.] He taught his grandson to fish, too, something Dave still enjoys occasionally. He also liked to hunt - mostly for birds, like quail, or coons, rabbits or squirrels. He would often take one or more of his young nephews out in the woods or fields of my grandparents farm to do a little hunting. They loved it, and they are all crazy about their uncle! (So are his nieces.)

The last 20 years of his working days, he co-owned a custom cabinet shop and did beautiful work. He made chest of drawers and desks for his grandchildren, and that furniture will likely last 100 years or more.

Daddy is a great story-teller, loves really corny jokes, and keeps the family entertained. As the family genealogists, grandson Dave and I have been writing down many of the family stories. He often comes up with hilarious quotes that have us running for paper and pen to write them down. Don loves listening to my dad's stories and decided last year that we really needed to record him telling these stories - you never know when one is coming. So at Christmas time at our house, Don carried the little recorder around, just in case, prepared to turn it on at the first sound of a story-telling session.

My parents still drive to Missouri from Alabama once or twice a year, although they are threatening to give that long drive up. Last year they got their very first passports and traveled out of the country to Roatan to celebrate their 60th anniversary. Once here, they trekked all over the island seeing the sights by land and sea. He had a very good time and is willing to come back.

He doesn't fish much these day, doesn't hunt anymore, and doesn't do any serious carpentry, but he still cuts grass on his riding mower - his plus the yards of several widows and neighbors. He still puts in a big garden every year and tends to his fruit trees, and is always ready for a card game - which is how he is spending his birthday today, playing cards all afternoon with my mother and a group of friends.

Here's hoping you had a fantastic birthday and that the guys beat the gals at cards today. We love you!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Beautiful In Any Weather - But A Little Crazy

Last night's sunset was another beauty. The clouds began to build, giving us hope for rain.

The rain started around 4 a.m. with a little thunder and lightning! We don't see much of that on the island and have missed a good St. Louis type of thunderstorm. Around 4:30 a.m. the power went off. Thankfully, the rain storm brought cooler air since all the fans were off.

A beautiful sunrise.

The open section of the deck was wet, of course, but it had also blown in under the roof a couple of feet, including the area where the hummingbird nest hangs, as seen above.

We've become concerned about Esmerelda lately. She seems to be either suffering from post-partum depression or is just having some type of breakdown. Ok, I know you're rolling on the floor about now, but seriously, something is going on with this bird. A couple of nights ago, we had gone into our quarters to watch a movie and turned the deck lights off. Suddenly, Esmerelda was at our window screen, cheeping like crazy. She fluttered there for a long, long time. We couldn't imagine what she was doing - trying to catch bugs to add to her slurry? No, didn't look like it. Was something wrong with the nest? A preditor? No, the nest looked fine. She seemed upset with us. She wouldn't leave and go back to her nest either. She just kept fluttering at the window screen. We finally turned off the lights inside our quarters and turned the deck lights back on to lure her back to the nest. Finally, that worked.

Last night she was busy flitting around gathering nectar and insects and feeding the babies as we were eating our dinner. When we finished cleaning up about an hour later, we noticed that she was still away from the nest and it was getting dark. Usually she's settled in for the night by dark. We went on into our quarters to watch another movie, checking on the nest from time to time and not seeing her. When the movie was over, she still had not returned. I was certain that something terrible had happened and worried about the babies.

When we got up this morning, she still was not on the nest. I was really filled with dread; I knew the one-week old babies wouldn't survive without her. But suddenly, there she was!!!!! Yay! I don't know where that party girl had been or even if she had really been gone all night, but now she was back on the job. The tiny little heads raised up above the top of the nest with opened beaks, waiting to be fed, so I knew they were ok.

After another nice, hard rain, we were treated to this lovely rainbow....and more rain.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Just Batty

Don lifts weights on the deck twice a week in the early morning. He had just gotten started this morning and moved one of the lounge chairs on the deck only to discover this small bat lying underneath it. We were very surprised that a bat would still be out after dawn, and to be just lying on the deck floor seemed even more odd. We wondered if it was sick or injured. Neither of us wanted to get too close or touch it; I'm thankful for my zoom lens.

Here he's hiding his face in the crack between deck boards, no doubt bothered by the light. Don brought out a lamp and placed it nearby to shine even more light on him, hoping that it would be so annoying that he would fly away. I think he did have some kind of injury. After awhile, he began moving more, stretching out first one wing and then the other.

Finally, he flew up near the ceiling of the deck and perched on the top of one of the gable fans high on the wall. (We have a covered portion of our deck, quite large, with a very high ceiling. This is where he went.) A short time later, he experimented with flying around on the deck - we stayed out of his way, and soon he flew off. Whew!

The baby hummingbirds are raising their little heads above the sides of the nest more often during feedings. I took a little video and will see if I can post it here later.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Froglegs, anyone?

Every now and then, you just get an unexpected blessing. That happened to us yesterday. The day really didn't start out that well for me, for when I got up, I realized my back was feeling especially out of sorts, and I was having a bit of difficulty walking. I resigned myself to a quiet day on the deck waiting for my back to settle down. God then provided for my entertainment and enjoyment. First, the view is just spectacular, then, there are the baby hummingbirds - endless entertainment. Then, when I opened up the umbrella on deck table, this little tree frog dropped down onto the deck floor. He stayed there for awhile then hopped up onto the side of the table and climbed up the umbrella pole.

He then positioned himself up on one of the spokes for a nice siesta in the shade.

He slept all day, as is usual, and we had just remarked to one another that we needed to be certain that he was down from his perch before we closed up the umbrella for the night. We needn't have been concerned. While we were sitting at this table eating dinner, the frog suddenly plummeted from up above, landing near Don's plate. He hopped onto my plate right next to my salmon patty and then onto the back of my hand. I made a loud exclamation while flinging him off my hand and in the direction of my glass. He wisely decided to flee for his life and hopped over onto the deck railing. Whew!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Babies have hatched!!

Yesterday, we noticed Esmerelda behaving differently. She'd fly off for feedings more frequently and when she returned, she would sit up on the edge of the nest and poke her beak around inside the nest. I suspected that the eggs were hatching, so I waited for her to fly off again and then quickly moved over to the nest and held my camera above it, pointing down into the nest. This is what I saw: one baby had emerged from the shell. Look closely and you can see it's tiny orange beak.

Here she is feeding the baby.

This morning, while my pal Debi was visiting, Esmerelda flew off again. Debi ran inside and grabbed my step stool so we could climb up and have a peak. And there were now 2 babies! She will continue to sit on them to regulate their body temperature until they get real feathers, about 2 weeks. They'll stay in the nest another week while trying out their wings. They have very short beaks right now - probably a good thing since mama is still sitting on them and, of course, feeding them frequently. She collects nectar and bugs, makes a slurry of it and then regurgitates it into the babies' mouths. Their beaks will grow as they get feathers. It's really a thrill to be able to watch this process up close.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Happy anniversary, Rachel and Lance! Here are a couple of pictures from their weddings (yes, that's right - weddings) 4 years ago in Arlington, TX. Sometimes one wedding just isn't enough.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Feasting

This has been an unusual Mother's Day. The fact that it is being celebrated without my kids or my own mother is not unusual; it is rare to get to share the day with any of them since we all live so far apart. Of course, I am even farther away this year, being out of the country.

It started last night. The power went out, again, around 4 p.m. It didn't come back on. I had a crockpot of beans cooking and chicken breasts thawed out and in the fridge, but the thought of throwing together another quick meal in a very hot kitchen before dark just didn't appeal to me. So I said "I'd like to go out to dinner" and Don willingly agreed. We went to Blue Bahia, a beachfront restaurant close enough that we could actually walk there, although we drove down. Their power was also out, but we figured they might have a generator, but that didn't seem to be the case. They had lamps lit in the kitchen and the waiter brought out candles for every table, reminiscent of last night's dinner. We ordered dinner and not long later, the power came back on. I had great St. Louis style barbequed ribs. And all mothers got a free dessert - a chimichanga filled with chocolate, peanut butter and bananas, served in a puddle of chocolate syrup. Yum!!

After church today, we went up to Dennis and Merlin's for a Mother's Day feast - and I'm not kidding. That woman must have cooked all day yesterday. She seriously put my mother-in-law to shame, and Lou was the queen of lavish spreads. Here's the menu: baked ham, baked chickens with dressing, footlong hotdogs (grandkids), rice and beans, mac 'n cheese, the island crab stew, fried plantains, iguana (yes, you read correctly - iguana!), potato salad, tomato-pepper-onion viniagrette salad and desserts - pineapple upside-down cake, brownies, cupcakes and some other cake, plus the chocolate cake that I brought. She wouldn't let me help cook, but she did have assistance from some of the grand-daughters.

Ok, so now you want to know if we tried the iguana and if so, how did it taste, right? Yes, we did, and it tastes like chicken! hehehe. Seriously, it was pretty good. And it does taste a little like chicken. She fixes it with iguana eggs, which I didn't care for. Her family was divided in appreciation of iguana - some love it, some hate it, and some love the eggs the best. I actually liked the iguana better than the crab stew. And someone left quite a few pieces of crab shell in with the meat. Merlin makes little tiny dumplings, which she pats out and drops in the pot with the coconut milk, crab, plantains, and yucca. The iguana has lots of tiny little bones to watch out for, so between the iguana and the crab, I was chewing carefully.

All of Merlin's kids who live on the island (2 do not) came for dinner, with all of their kids. It was quite lively, and to add to the noise and mayhem, Dennis popped in the Eagles' Fairwell Concert and cranked up the volume. gotta love the Eagles! We had a rockin' good time.

We are well-fed so I really don't care if the power goes out again tonight - although I would like to see the movie...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

All quiet - and sometimes dark

Another quiet, peaceful day. Nice. Saw a notice for a peace march to be held here, starting at the airport at 8 a.m. Monday, wear white. This may be interesting. A peace march to protest the protesters.

Yesterday was just a normal day. No poachers, no protesters, no problems....that is, until the power went out again. We were on the deck, enjoying the sunset and some guacamole when the power went. I decided I'd better jump up and fix dinner quickly while I could still see. When the sun goes down here, it gets dark very quickly (we are much closer to the equator here than in St. Louis). I managed to complete the meal, get it on the table in record time. We had a lovely candlelight - no, make that oil lantern light, dinner on the deck. The power came back on, briefly just before we finished eating, then went back off and stayed off. Forget doing dishes. Not romantic by oil lantern light or any other light. Instead, we cleared off the table and played a game of Scrabble (I won) and then read for awhile. I had been all psyched up about watching our newest pirated movie Knowing. That will have to wait. It's good to be flexible here as you never know what may happen. The power didn't come back on until after we had been sleeping for awhile. Thankfully, it was quite windy last night, so we were very comfortable despite the fans being off.

This afternoon, I heard some joking, laughing voices coming from the far line of banana trees on Dennis and Merlin's property and then saw a man walking around on their hillside looking for something. Seemed a bit fishy, so I called Dennis. He came down to our deck, looking for these guys who were suddenly being very quiet and well-hidden. Finally he saw one of them and hollared out, asking them what they were doing. One of them finally answered and said they were working for Tracey, a man who bought some land from Dennis on the back side of that hill. It has been very quiet since Dennis left and I haven't seen anyone leaving with bunches of bananas (which are not on Tracey's land).

Tia and her young sons came down to cut flowers to give to all the women at church tomorrow for Mother's Day. Tia is our pastor's wife and new neighbor. I have tons and tons of heliconia that looks a lot like bird of paradise and that is what we cut. The little boys, ages 3 and 7, had a good time and the older boy had to pause and climb a tree. We have a lot of trees just the right size for climbing, too.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Peaceful Again...

After yesterday's craziness, it is nice to have peace again. There were no road blocks today and we saw no protesters anywhere. There was a meeting this morning at the Zolitur building which was the scene of much of yesterday's action. The meeting, accordingly to our friend Merlin, was supposedly for English speakers (ex-pats? all foreigners? anyone who speaks English??) to try to explain what had happened and why. Merlin kind of wanted to go and Dennis was too busy to take her (she doesn't drive); she was hoping we would go, but Don also had too many other things to do today now that we have a car again. We'll hear about it later from those who did attend. Merlin did say the roads were all open, the Cobras (special mainland soldiers) were on the island and this morning would be a safe time to run errands.

We went to the bank, the Kia dealer to pay for the car repairs, the gas station, grocery store and picked up another pirated movie. So wonderful to have air-conditioning in the car again! It hasn't rained for awhile, so it's dry and dust blows in any opened windows. I don't mind opened windows but I do draw the line at having to dust myself when I get out of the car.

We're going out again this afternoon to pick up and pay for some shelves our friend, Andy, made for us out of wonderful Honduran hardwood (not mahagony). Hopefully the roads will still be ok. We saw lots of downed trees and piles of brush that had been used as roadblocks. Our pastor, who is now our neighbor, encountered 4 roadblocks on the short drive to church early yesterday morning, a distance of less than 2 miles. They were unmanned, so he moved the logs out of the way and continued his drive.

Despite the lack of rain, we have had more clouds and therefore, more interesting sunsets. Here are a few pictures from this week.

The hummer, Esmerelda, is doing fine. It was very, very windy last night and early this morning and the nest has been swinging wildly in the breeze. She's jammed down in there pretty snugly. I peeked in the nest this morning while she was out having breakfast and there are only two eggs.

I found a cut stalk of bananas this morning while walking early with my friend, Tia. I was showing her our property line and noticed that someone had cut the stalk and hidden it behind our low wall along side the road - probably planning to come back later, or they got scared off by the dogs. I was needing more bananas, so I just carried them back to the house. I showed them to Merlin when she came down. It makes her so mad when people steal. She wants to know who's doing the poaching - if it's one of her workers, he'll be fired. If they ask her first, she will usually let them take some. I would too. Goodness knows we have plenty of bananas.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lucky 13?

Well this has been a most interesting day. First of all, Henry never showed up with our car last night. No phone call. Nothing. So last night we planned to go to the bank and then pick up the car today, until Merlin came down very early to warn us to stay home. Roadblocks and protesters again. Her workers called in this morning to say they could not get past the roadblocks to come to work. When I got on Facebook, I saw that another friend had been prevented from going to the ferry due to the roadblock. So we resigned ourselves to another day at home. Then Merlin said the protesters were threatening a 3 or 4 day blockade. The Honduran president is also supposed to visit the island today. Is this in conjunction with the protests or something else altogether? Why are they protesting again? I've heard that it is the Spaniards again, not islanders, who are demonstrating and that it has to do with some large construction companies hiring Guatemalan workers after the island officials deported 1500 Spaniards for failing to work. But I also heard that there are other issues involved, like rising prices. Who knows.

As I was sitting on the deck early this morning, I heard someone chopping in the distant row of banana trees (Merlin's property) and then saw a man walking down the hill carrying two large stalks of bananas. He saw me and took pains to get out of sight and ducked around the backside of the hill. Clearly a banana poacher. Not the first time either.

Dennis called down to invite me up to watch Merlin clean and pick crab. I know a good time when I see one, so off I went to help out. Two different people had brought her sacks of crabs on the same day. Her son was pulling the crabs out of a 50 pound feed sack type of bag and had pots on the stove and on the gas grill with crabs being boiled. His wife, Jeanette (lovely name!), was on the side porch armed with a huge metal spoon and a knife and was busily whacking and cracking the crabs. There were more pans of cooked crab sitting around. Merlin demonstrated the technique of cracking the crabs. She pulls off the legs and claws and puts the bodies in a separate pot. Then the legs are whacked with the side of the knife near the joint and then gently pulled apart revealing the meat. The claws are whacked hard with the back of the enormous metal spoon and then pulled apart. Well, I had to try this. Not so easy. The first claw shot across the deck and landed on the step. the second one bounced off Merlin's foot. I got a really juicy claw that spattered my formerly clean white top with brownish clam "fat". Later I shot one right to the cat, who really wasn't all that interested. I soon had clam juice all over me - a big spot on my glasses, splatters on my arm, my top, my shorts and the tops of both feet where a leg bounced off. Seriously dirty work. It took the the 3 of us about 2 hours to crack and pick the crabs. Shawn and Jeanette said the women who sell the crabs only get about L. 70 (about $4.00/pound) for this work, and they also have to catch them which involves chasing them down the road at night armed with a sack and a stick. They really deserve about $20./pound in my opinion. All those pots of crabs yielded a couple of quarts of picked out crabmeat, just from the legs and claws. Merlin was going to do the bodies herself later, but from what I could tell it looked like there was only small amounts of meat in them. Thankfully, she gave her other kids some pots of crabs to take home. She's going to fix the crab "island-style", in coconut milk with plantains and yucca, and we'll have it Sunday for our Mother's Day feast.

I came home to shower, clean my glasses and yucky nails and fix lunch. We had just sat down on the deck to eat when I heard a car pull up in front of our house. Hmmm...sounded sort of familiar. I got up to look and there was our car with Henry climbing out of it. Wow! Were we surprised. We excitedly asked the very apologetic Henry how he had gotten past the roadblocks, but he didn't understand "roadblocks" or "protesters" and we don't know the Spanish equivilents. Don explained that we had not gotten to the bank due to the roadblocks. Henry said "no problemo", the bill was in the glove compartment and we could go by the office and pay "whenever". Just amazing. Try that in the States.

Dennis called to warn us to not even think about going in to the bank today. The protest had turned violent, shots were fired and a building was on fire. The soldiers had been called in from the mainland to restore order. The cruise ship was turned away this morning - this could be really bad for tourism. The last time this happened, the cruise industry warned that if it happened one more time, they were outta here.

So, after 13 days without, we have a car again, but we still can't go anywhere. We are sitting tight until this ugly mess is resolved. Hopefully that will be soon. And I'll bet you thought we would be bored, just sitting around, huh?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Day 12

Yup. Day 12 without a car. Supposed to be ready at 8 a.m.; shortly after 8, we received a call from the Kia office - the car wasn't ready!! Surprise, surprise. But, they promised that it would be ready after 1 p.m. Don wasn't anxious to rush down there right after lunch, decided to wait awhile and then call first. It was finally ready, and - get this, Henry was going to deliver the car to us at 5 p.m.!! Pretty cool. Saves us another taxi ride. Don asked what we owed and was told L.4000, or about $211. Don checked and said "I don't have that much cash here, I'll have to go to the bank first, so I'd better come pick up the car myself." He was told, "no problem, Henry will bring the car, pay what you can and bring the balance by the office after you go to the bank."

We walked up the hill to visit with Dennis and Merlin - haven't seen them in several days. They were just back from grocery shopping in French Harbor and reported a new roadblock in Mount Pleasant near the new mall construction. Protesters had one side of the road blocked, protesting the recent deportation of 1,500 mainland Hondurans ("spaniards") who supposedly came here looking for work but in fact were not working. The construction company then brought in a large number of Guatemalan workers and that led to the protest. It's not islanders who are protesting; it is the Spaniards. Tomorrow, the Honduran president is apparently coming to the island and the protest will continue, so we were warned to avoid trips to French Harbor. No problem.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Clear Sailing

Ahhhh! Finally, after several failed attempts to extend our visas, today we found favor. I must admit, that after the agent's questioning us on Saturday, that I did not have a good feeling about meeting with him today. So, I prayed, several friends prayed, Don prayed. Our missionary friend, Ruth, who had also prayed, picked us up to drive us the the office and to act as our interpreter. On the way, we explained in detail what had happened thus far. She seems to understand the law pretty well and said that we might have no other choice but to leave the country for the required 3 days. By the time we arrived at immigration, I had pretty well resigned myself to having to leave.

There were several people ahead of us and they all seemed to be having assorted problems. While waiting, we talked with a Methodist preacher/missionary who was born in St. Louis! When our turn came, Ruth explained our situation and in answer to his questions, told him that although we were not missionaries, we were, in fact, helping with the mission work (true) and that allowing us to stay would benefit that effort. They had quite the discussion of Honduran law, residency requirements (more questions were asked), and finally he advised us to starting working on getting our residency. He read off the requirements, and Ruth wrote them down for us. After more talking, he agreed to allow our extension. Hallelujah! What a relief.

Day 11 with no car: On to the Kia dealer/repair shop. Henry was not there but another employee called him on the cell phone and Ruth talked to him. The problem with the a/c condenser had been fixed but he was waiting on a high pressure switch (this Don understood) to finish the job - once again the wrong part had been sent and reordered; he would have it fixed today and we could pick it up first thing in the a.m. (We'll see.) Such is life on the island.

I asked to Ruth to listen to the messages on my phone, which was supposed to be programmed in English, but in fact is half and half, and I don't understand that other half. So, I've never been able to retrieve messages or use voice mail. She set it up for me, so if you're in Honduras, feel free to leave me a message now! (I've been telling everyone for the last few months to not even bother.)

So, a wonderfully productive day. Ruth is such a blessing, and her faith is amazing.

The hummer, Esmerelda, is getting used to us coming and going across the deck all day long. She doesn't even bother to leave her nest when we come a little too close. It has been one week since she laid the first egg, two more weeks to go!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Day Nine?

I think this is day 9 without a car. Today Don wanted to go in to Coxen Hole early (8 a.m.) to catch the immigration agent at his office, so we walked down our hill and caught a taxi. It is the day after the holiday, lots of people in the Hole and lots of them were standing in line outside the banks waiting to go in.

The immigration office was still padlocked, and there were three other people already waiting outside. Turns out they were waiting for the harbor agent. They're all cruisers, not cruise ship people; they own boats which they have docked in French Harbor. They needed to get some kind of paperwork taken care of so they can leave in a couple of days. Really interesting talking to them. The couple owns a catamaran and has lived aboard for the past four years, sailing along the Pacific coast from California to Ecuador, through the Panama Canal and now along the Caribbean coast. The third person has lived on his boat for six years and says it can be both the best and the worst times of life.

Soon an official, who had been on the phone the entire time we were visiting with the cruisers, came over and told us that the immigration officer was already at the airport and the harbor agent would not be in today. Both would be available tomorrow afternoon between 2-3 p.m.

We decided to take a taxi over to the airport since it was not quite 9 a.m. and see if we could catch him before the planes began landing. We had to ask a security guard to go get him from his post inside the arrival area. Don gave him his prepared and rehearsed spiel and Ramon began asking us questions, some of which we understood and could answer and some we could not. We needed help, so we asked one of the other airport employees to interpret. Ramon wanted to know what we were doing here - did we work here, were we missionaries, had we applied for residency. He seemed to think we needed to fit into one of those categories. He asked for and looked at our passports, asked again if we were applying for residency, then told us that we would have to come in to his office in Coxen Hole on Monday anytime after 7 a.m. We were a little bit uneasy about his questioning and hesitation, but then I realized that we'll have to carry our renewal fee over to the bank and get the receipt to bring back to him and, of course, it makes sense to do all that on Monday. We will be one day over, so we hope he doesn't fine us. We also realized that it may be time to apply for residency ( not citizenship) so we don't have to hassle with this anymore. That only has to be renewed annually.

We were right across the street from the Kia dealership where our Rav4 is awaiting repair. We decided to go visit, see if Henry was in or if anyone was in the office who could explain what the status was on the car repairs. We were somewhat hopeful when we saw that our car had been moved. Struck out again. Some young guys who spoke no English, indicated that Henry might be in soon.

Our car...just sitting and waiting.

We went back over to the airport to wait. Probably not the best time to be hanging around airports due to swine flu. We did see about 5 airport employees wearing masks and maybe 4 or 5 passengers wearing them. No one seemed sick, but you never know. We chose to sit outside. I like people watching and it was nice to be out of the house for awhile. Some of the taxi/bus drivers were playing checkers over in the the shade while they waited for the planes to come in. We were reminded of the time we were on Cayos, and the men were playing 5 card stud, using shark vertebrae for poker chips.

After about an hour, we walked back over to the Kia dealership again to check on Henry. No one had come in, so we gave up and went back to the airport to wait for our friend, Kristin, who was being brought to the airport at 11 a.m. by another friend who was also going to drop off some of Kristin's belongings at our house, so we thought we could say goodbye to Kris and then catch a ride home. That worked well. Kris was delighted to see us one last time and Melissa was happy to give us a ride. She needed to stop at Warren's which gave us a chance to see if they had bread - yes!...and buns - yes! And the shrimp man was at his post and we were able to get a couple of pounds of big shrimp for $5/lb. We finally got home around 12:30!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Laundry Bird

Just to give you an idea of how close this nesting hummer is to us, here she is, hanging among the laundry. I waited for her to fly off before I hung these shorts so close to her nest. I didn't hang anything too close on HER line and I was careful to keep darker, duller colors on the lines closest to her nest. She still got a little bit excited when she flew back, hovering, fussing, darting around from various directions. Finally she made peace with it and returned to the nest.

I had to take a taxi to Bible study last night since I have no car and no one from Sandy Bay was going to the study. So, I walked down our hill, flagged down a taxi, offering him 30 lempiras; he agreed. He asked if I spoke Spanish, I said "un poco", so we had a little conversation in Spanish. He asked my name and did I live in Sandy Bay. Told me his name was Santo. When we got in to West End, I asked him to take me to Foster's, at the far end of the beach road, nearer to my destination. He went as far as the Baptist church, pulled over and started to turn around! I said "oh, no. Foster's" and pointed to the right. He started talking fast and I only understood "West Bay" and "rapido", as he pointed to his watch. I had forgotten that there is also a Foster's in West Bay, but that's not where I wanted to go. He refused to take me the rest of the way, so I paid him, got out and walked the rest of the way to Kristin's. I really don't know what he was trying to do.

Thankfully, I didn't have to take a taxi back home, after dark, by myself. No desire to do that. Melissa thoughtfully offered to give me a ride home, even though it is out of her way (she lives in West Bay). I was able to bring Kristin's hammock and a small rug back with me. Kris asked if we could store a few things for her while she's back in the States for awhile. She's returning to Montana. We'll miss her.

People come and go here, as do we. Yesterday Colin (and Kellie and Moe) moved from the house up the hill from us to a house down on the beach close to church. Today our pastor and his family moved from the church compound into the house up the hill, so we have new neighbors. The kids will have to come down and see our hummingbird soon.

Just a pretty sunset to close with. Enjoy.